286

Playdate: Playdate

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Playdate: Playdate While children spend after school-hours and weekends working on homework and spending time with their families, they also have play dates. They get together with other like-minded friends to let loose and blow off some steam. Musicians often do the same thing and, appropriately enough, three of the five performers on Playdate have been friends since high school. Guitarist Amanda Monaco, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and pianist Noah Baerman have a shared history, having studied music together in Connecticut, and they've joined forces with bassist Henry Lugo and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza to form Playdate.

The group/album title makes perfect sense because of the relationship of the participants but it can be misleading if viewed from a musical stance. This isn't a loose blowing session with overdone standards. The press materials mark the album as a "delightful combination of the hard bop tradition and modern sophistication" and, while this is largely accurate, the scales tip a little toward the latter. Five of the seven tracks on this record were written by the participants and each song has something different to say. Monaco's tone is warm and inviting and Escoffery—lacking rough edges here—matches her with his own sound.

The album begins in with the mid-tempo swing of Monaco's "Copper Tone." Escoffery spins out instantly appealing and simply executed melodic lines that dovetail with Monaco and, to a lesser extent, Baerman. At times, Monaco blends so well with Escoffery, that it almost seems like another horn is present. James Williams' "Yes, Yes Oh Yes!," receives a red carpet reading, beginning with Monaco's solo introduction and moving to a cool swing vibe, highlighted by Escoffery's nonchalant and incredibly hip delivery. A long run of solos, featuring some deep bellowing notes from Escoffery, is capped off by a sax cadenza and some arco bass toward the end of the song.

Sperrazza proves to be a double-threat here with his fine drumming and intriguing compositions. His "Milan Kundera," taking its name from the famed author, sounds like a cheery Vince Guaraldi-style Charlie Brown song—in seven—with slight calypso inflections adding to its originality. While Escoffery's main axe is his tenor saxophone, his work on soprano here is fresh and proves to be one of the highlights of the album. The connection established between these musicians, both in terms of personal history and in musical empathy, is solid; hopefully this won't be a one-time play date.

Track Listing: Copper Tone; Remember The Goldfish; Yes, Yes, Oh Yes!; T-Time; Baby Man; Milan Kundera; Memday.

Personnel: Wayne Escoffery: saxophones; Noah Baerman: piano; Amanda Monaco: guitar; Vinnie Sperrazza: drums; Henry Lugo: acoustic bass.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell CD/LP/Track Review Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 28, 2017
Read Oaktree CD/LP/Track Review Oaktree
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 28, 2017
Read Green With Envy CD/LP/Track Review Green With Envy
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2017
Read Luma CD/LP/Track Review Luma
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 28, 2017
Read My Foolish Heart CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 28, 2017
Read Ha Noi Duo CD/LP/Track Review Ha Noi Duo
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "The Traveller's Tale" CD/LP/Track Review The Traveller's Tale
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Interesting" CD/LP/Track Review Interesting
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Arctic" CD/LP/Track Review Arctic
by James Nadal
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Dharma" CD/LP/Track Review Dharma
by Dave Wayne
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "Mundo" CD/LP/Track Review Mundo
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!